blog award!

Much to my surprise, yesterday I was nominated by phoe for a "you make my day" blog award. I'm thrilled! (I've never been nominated for anything before.) So here, in no particular order, are my top ten inspirational daily reads:
  • gala darling :: she's funny, and girly, and always very much about being yourself.
  • the vintage society :: lovely clothes and a savvy businesswoman. 
  • ann wood :: her creativity is so inspiring
  • (into) the fray :: I sometimes wonder if Ambika and I were somehow separated at birth; we share an obsession with shoes and vintage coats. But she makes pretty jewelry, and has amazing curly hair, and I don't. 
  • painfully hip :: always upbeat and witty
  • the coveted :: smart. creative. chic
  • the sartorialist :: yes, he's the original, and everyone reads him. But that's because he's just THAT good.
  • jesh de rox :: amazingly gorgeous photography.
  • love made visible :: lovely visuals.
  • elegant musings :: casey seems to constantly surround herself with beauty, and her life overflows with creativity. 

the bag of wicked awesomeness

My tote bag died again, so I've spent spare moments over the past couple of weeks working on a replacement. It had to be:
- huge (big enough for a book, my moleskiene calendar, and my knitting)
- shoulder-strapped
- zippable
- pocketed
- sturdy
- fun.
I think this meets all the criteria. It's still not entirely complete--I need to tack down some ends, etc, but I like it too much to care. The brown fabric is one I picked up on clearance at Hancocks, the blue flowers were thrifted. I'm happy.

baggy goodness

detail of the strap

clashing fabrics

wednesday wonderfulness, volume 2

Hooray! It's time to share the amazing stuff I've collected over the past week.
That's all I have for now, but I have a bunch of other poor, neglected posts that need to make their way into the world today. I'll get busy on that. 


inspiring me: pale but still intense colors

all images from dominomag.com

inspired by shabby chic

I'm not a complete Rachel Ashwell convert--often things are a little too pale for me--but I'm currently completely obsessed with the idea of squashy white sofas. Nevermind that we don't have a house of our own to put it in (we're working on that part), a girl can dream, right? The top pic is from the shabby chic website, the bottom is me throwing together favorite things in polyvore.


it's time for wednesday wonderfulness

Otherwise known as a roundup of goodness that has been collecting for a few days. 
That's all for now. This evening I have a meeting with a prospective client and a planned watching of the long version of Pride & Prejudice, with no work tomorrow. Woo!


clutching at straws

Clutches are apparently supposed to be big this spring, but I don't care. I love the prim ladylike shape, the very chic "I can carry a clutch because I never forget my purse" look. Sadly, this is not the case for me; I usually carry a giant over-the-shoulder bag that's big enough to toss in a book, a couple of notebooks, knitting, and whatever else strikes my fancy. (For this reason, I go through bag at an alarming rate.) This doesn't keep me from dreaming, though, of the day when my purse contents can be pared down to the minimum. I've rounded up some lovely vintage finds from Ebay, all with more than a day left and no more than $10 at the time of posting. Good, eh?

left: it has a covered button! How fabulous! right: it's gray, and it's not a tiny, wimpy clutch. Could perhaps hold all the necessities for the day? 

Yellow! I love yellow. The white one on the right is fabulously oversized. Loving that. 

These two are decidedly smaller, but also look more vintage. 

Ok, this little guy on the left is very tempting. The print! The bow! The perfection! And on the right, we have your two major trends: oversized and purple. 
Enjoy! As always, click on the images to go to the auctions. 


how to: take a better photo, an easy guide for beginners

Someone left a comment one of my last posts about wishing they could take better pictures, and so I decided to write down a few of the things I've done to improve. First off, though, if you want some encouragement and to see some seriously lame pictures, check out my old flickr. Um, wow. You can see the beginnings of some good ideas, and you can see the attempts, but for the most part? It's crap. (Oh, and for the record--all those pictures from my wedding were not taken by me. Obviously. They were taken by an awesome friend of mine.) And these aren't super in-depth ideas; they should just get you started. Another disclaimer: I'm going to illustrate points with random photos found on my computer. The fact that they're on there means they were either taken by me or with my camera, and trust me: there's a reason they've not been shown to the world before now. So enjoy laughing at my learning curve.
* move in closer *
So I may overkill on this one, but the single most common mistake I see in photos is shooting too wide. Only include what you need to communicate your message.
Here's an excellent example. The setting is lovely, but by trying to include both the trees and the person, I lose the impact of both. Your eye doesn't really know where to go.

When I zoom in, suddenly you understand the point of the picture. (Isn't his hair... conservative??? Hehehe.)

So edit within your camera. Take several photos where you can see the point, rather than trying to fit everything into one shot.
Project: take 5 photos of the same subject, moving in closer each time. Choose the one that best captures the subject. (It might not be the closest one, but it is a possibility.)

*change your angle*
By changing where you take the shot from, you can completely change the feeling of the shot or reveal something new about the subject.

The top picture is a boring, standard "oh! pretty flowers!" shot. The bottom one shows something about a dandelion that you can't see without some effort. Isn't that the whole point of photography? To show something that isn't necessarily obvious?
Here's another example.


It is our natural tendency to take photos from our eye level--it's easiest that way! But that's also the way everyone else sees. By kneeling down or by standing on a chair, we change the way we see, and that means we're seeing new things.
One more:

It's pretty subtle, but if you look at the left-hand side of this image, you can tell I was kneeling when I took it, which is what it took too emphasize all the lines in the aisle. Shooting from eye-level just didn't have the same impact.
Project: get as high and as low as you can to take pictures of the same subject. How many angles can you find from which to photograph the same thing? 

*learn the rule of thirds*
It's quite simple, really. By curing the dreaded "middleitis," images become exponentially more interesting.

I can also mention here that generally photos are more flattering when they're taken at an angle instead of straight on.
Project: shoot the same subject 4 times, each time using a different "third line" for emphasis.

*learn from others
I love books of photography, and regularly check them our from the library. I also flip through books of the greats, collect magazines with inspiring images, and subscribe to amazing photographers blogs. Whenever I'm stuck, Flickr will definitely give me a kick in the pants. Please note: I'm not saying to copy other photographer's images. I am saying to learn from their creativity. Seeing how they approach a problem will often spark new ideas in you and you'll try things that you never would have thought of left to your own devices.
Project: find 3 new photography blogs that you love and add them to your feedreader.

And finally, the most important thing is

* practice*
I took somewhere upwards of 8,000 images last year. (It was probably over ten thousand, but I'm not positive of that.) I spent hours and hours going through those images, whittling them down, cutting away the so-so ones, editing the ones that remained, and then picking up the camera and doing it all again. I've been taking pictures (with a serious camera) since I was 12, but it really wasn't until last year that I started to work at photography, really work at it, asking for feedback, challenging myself, developing my own little improvement projects. And the results have been pretty impressive: I've improved more in the last year than I had in the previous 13. (At least I think so.) Using a digital camera definitely makes it easier, but it's not the key: the key is worked.
Photographers are fairly divided on the whole art vs. skill debate. Some say that creativity is the key, others glory in technical prowess. I say, with Edison, that "genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration." Creativity is work. It takes effort to continually push yourself to think outside the box. It takes effort to try to see things in new ways. It takes effort to see a beautiful image and not just say "oooo, pretty" but push yourself to learn something from that beauty. Sometimes it is incredibly exhausting to maintain enthusiasm and curiosity about the world around me. However, I am firmly convinced that anyone can learn to take beautiful photographs if they are willing to invest the work required.

So anyway, that's my nifty-cool little suggestions for anyone who wants to take better pictures. Questions? Comments? Please share, either through comments or email (vdoprincess AT gmail DOT com). Photographers, please chime in. What am I forgetting? Am I completely off base here?

And enjoy taking beautiful pictures.


review: atonement

I made the 1:00 matinee (I got off work early) and I was enthralled. It's breathtakingly lovely, heartbreaking, and simply enchanting, in the most painful way. I want all of Kiera Knightley's wardrobe, I want to marry Robbie, and I want to live on all the sets--they're that gorgeous. I even forgive them for casting KK, of whom I am not a fan, to say the least. She was perfect in this role. 


growing out my hair

So I can do this with it. Maybe I'm falling into a trend (I've been hearing a lot of buzz about her haircut) but I've had my eye on this cut for, oh 4 or five months. So there. 
In other news, I have total soccer mom hair today. It's all FLIPPY and STICKY-OUTY. Not cool. Especially not cool since I had this awesome blog post all arranged in my head (not THIS one, but another one that shall hopefully burble forth at a later date) but it's stuck there because my hair is so annoying that I cannot concentrate at all. Maybe I'll go watch Paris J T'Amie instead. 
Random note: I wanted to catch a matinee of Atonement today, but I had to get ready for a client meeting tonight instead. (I got the contract! Hooray!) If I don't watch it sometime tomorrow, it will be out of our theaters, so I'm faced with quite the dilemma. 


one day I will be rich, and until then, I will drool

Understand, I'm not a straight across the board jcrew fan. I grew out of that when I was about 17. Much of their stuff is a little boring for me, while other pieces are designed for impossibly skinny, hipless people. But then there are the other pieces, the ones that are simply breathtakingly lovely. Like these:

This is the perfect cardi. Seriously. Perfect shape, perfect length, perfect everything. 

It's yellow, and it's leather, what's not to love? Besides the classic shape, trim size, and adorable button, I mean.

Why isn't every bride having her maids wear one of these? Honestly. It's so lovely and flowy and feminine and gorgeous. No, instead they have to make them buy polyester monstrosities (separates or not, I don't care. It's a synthetic fabric, and I hate synthetics) for nearly the same price. Le sigh.

I only have two yellow coats at this point. This one is warmer than either of them. That definitely makes it a "need."

For the record, I don't have any zebra print shoes. Especially not any chic little peep toes like this, that would look equally perfect with jeans or peeptoes. Birthday gift, anyone?


a last goodbye to 2007

I've spent a few hours collecting my favorite photos taken during the last year, and the result is an intensely personal, slightly cheesy, hopefully interesting slideshow. Enjoy.


good stuff that I need to share

I've had several tasty links accumulate, and I had to pass them along. 
  • ok, skip the other guys in this picture and just check out Beckham's outfit. Isn't it great? Preppy and fresh, but still manly. I'm trying to convince le husband that he too could pull it off, but so far, the word "cardigan" has him running scared.
  • awesomegorgeouslovely paper chandelier. That's all. 
  • how to achieve manga style. I'm not into manga, but I should totally try this. Because I CAN. 
  • stills from this year's pirelli calendar. Confession: I have no idea who pirelli is, although I probably should. I just think the pictures are gooooorgeous. (the rest of the pictures are here.) 
  • and another one for the gents: custom-tailored (not custom made, but better than off-the-rack) jackets starting at $180. That's ridiculously low. I'd like to see the quality in person before I buy, but seriously? That's cheaper than jcrew. 
In other news, I have another wedding show tomorrow. (So far I have 2 weddings and two pretty certain consultations off the last one!) I also need to make a new tote bag, since my old one broke. (I carry too many books.) Life is good. 

when I grow up I want to be this trio

I picked up a CD of the Puppini Sisters at the library, brought it home, and was pretty much hooked as soon as I flipped through the liner notes. They're completely adorable. I wasn't able to pick up too many pictures, but if you go to their site, click on "cigarette cards" for numerous pictures of them in various period outfits. I'm in mad love! Their music is fabulous, as well. When I put it on today, my sister instantly perked up and loved it too. It's the sort of thing that makes you me wish I could swing dance. To hear more of it, check out their myspace. Enjoy!


greatest apologies

I have a couple of posts in the pipeline right now that I want to finish, but I'm just not feeling well today. I've been strangely headachy all day, and nothing seems to take it away. Very odd.

Please have a lovely weekend, and I'll try to post tomorrow.


wherever you are be all there, part 1

This started out as a bit of a brainrush about being intentional in what you wear, and slowly grew into a confession: I used to be a horrendous clothes snob. That's quite a hilarious statement, considering that I also spent a good portion of my fifteenth year in plaid shirts and argyle socks. With long khaki skirts. 'Twas awful. But I had always been very into clothing, especially of the vintage variety, so the plaid stage was intermingled with wearing all my grandmother's clothing from the fifties and sixties. (That I COULD wear--she was considerably better endowed than I, so many of her dresses looked rather starved when I put them on.) But anyway, at some point I gathered from somewhere some rather stringent ideas as to what was "attractive" and what wasn't and I automatically judged people based on those ideas. People too far outside of my idea of attractive were automatically weird/tacky/boring. It took a combination of two factors for me to ditch this (rather limiting) attitude. First, I moved to Ohio, where no one knew me and therefore there were no expectations. Second (and this is the big one), I joined wardrobe remix. Watching the people consistently give positive feedback to many things I considered "weird" and respond with great enthusiasm to the super-creative motivated me to take risks, to wear things in strange ways. 
That's a very long way of saying I'm quite ashamed of myself. And now I'm very much into "if you love it, wear it." But along the way, I've made a few mistakes and learned a few tricks, so I'll share them. 
* Wear only things you love * 
This was one of my big project in 2007; editing down my wardrobe to get rid of clothes I don't really like but keep because you're "supposed" to have them. Example: khakis. I know they're classic, practical, etc, but I hate the way they look on me. I look like a pudgy soccer mom with fat thighs. So no khakis for me. (Of course, now I work for a corporation where I have to wear either khaki or black pants to work every day.) 
One of the biggest mindsets I had to adjust was the whole "housecleaning clothes" idea. I used to have clothes for when I'm kicking around at home and going out the door meant at least 30 minutes spent finding an acceptable outfit and combing hair. Well, I pitched all my "work clothes" and now get dressed in the morning in an outfit I love. It's amazing how much more work you can get done when you feel pretty and socially presentable! (Side note: I'm still hard on my clothes when cleaning, etc, so now I have a lovely excuse to collect aprons. This is also great because I make sure there's always a pocket on my apron for my iPod.) 

* Wear only things that fit * 
Bras, pants, sweaters, dresses...they all look wrong when the don't fit correctly, and you spend the entire time adjusting. I know we all have that pair of skinny jeans we're working on fitting into, but here's a tip: just because you CAN get it on doesn't mean it should go out the door. And if you've lost a lot of weight, I know it's expensive to buy a whole new wardrobe, but that's why Forever21 was invented. Hit the clearance rack and pick up a few tees in your new size, rather than slopping around in something that will hold 17 of you. You confidence will show. 

* Wear only things that work *
I'll be the first to admit that when we lived in Ohio I wore high-heeled boots 90% of the (snowy, icy) winter, and I still do most of my grocery shopping in heels. So I'm definitely NOT of the opinion that "ugly = practical." However, I make sure that I can move quickly in heels so I won't slow anyone down if I walk with them, and I doubt I'd be wearing stilettos if I was caring for three small children. Wearing clothes that are right for the situation are paramount to ensure you feel comfortable and confident. This does not mean that you have to look like everyone else, just that you can do what you need to in the outfit you're wearing. For example: when I'm photographing anything, I have to be able to move quickly and quietly, lie on the ground and get up again quickly, and carry a bunch of lenses. So that means flat shoes, (usually) pants, no wide or low necklines, and lots of pockets. I COULD lie flat on my stomach while wearing a ballet neck top, but I would be constantly concerned about flashing my clients, and that's not terribly professional, so I try to avoid it. 

These three guidelines have made my life much simpler, so I'll stop here for now, and hopefully pick up tomorrow with ideas for carrying zest into every area of life. 

Further reading:


yet another reason to wear one color head-to-toe

Somehow had missed this video until now. I have no idea what the song was about; I just enjoyed watching the people. Lovely.


bits of goodness

is that wedding music that I hear?

With Christmas proposals over, newly minted finacees are released upon the unsuspecting public and wedding season is accelerating toward its peak. The bridal show yesterday reminded me of the monstrosities my sisters and I wore as bridesmaids, as well as the ones I've photographed, so I'm submitting some suggestions: dresses that are charming, usually flattering, don't scream "bridesmaid" and are under $150. These were all found at Unique Vintage and, while not actual vintage, are vintage-inspired and available in a variety of sizes. That last bit is helpful if you SIMPLY MUST HAVE all your bridesmaids matching exactly. (Note: I have no idea what the quality of these dresses are like. Do any of my loyal readers have experience with this company?)
A halter-neck is one the most universally flattering styles. The full skirt is an excellent disguise for figure flaws, and this dress would look equally flattering with ballet flats or platform pumps. Wouldn't this be fabulous at an outdoor wedding, with the maids all carrying huge bouquets of white hydrangeas? Now I want a wedding to plan.

I love this print, and since it's monochromatic, strong bright flowers would stand out nicely. Strapless can be a bit tricky, but with the right foundation garments it will work on almost anyone. And who WOULDN'T have somewhere else to wear this later in the year?

Ok, so I'm not convinced about the green bobbly things. But the rest of it is so fresh, so bright, so...Hairspray. Um, to me that's a good thing. Perfect for spring, wouldn't you say?

This is very femme fatale, and I'm a tinge concerned about the stretch velvet aspect of things. However, the style is fabulous. Fishtail hem? Draped cowl back? Do I hear a winter wedding in the later afternoon, with metallic sandals, vintage pearls as your bridesmaids gifts, and simple white callas tucked into sleek french twists?

No, it's not a bridesmaid dress. But it's so very fabulously Anthro, at a not-so-Anthro price, that I had to throw it in.
So readers, chime in. What dresses do you wish you could have worn as a bridesmaid? And what not-terrible-but-so-not-you dress did you actually wear?


blue sky and brown sand

Tomorrow is the first bridal show I've ever done, so I'm scurrying around today, trying to get everything ready. I'm feeling woefully unprepared, but that's to be expected, I suppose. Anyway, while sorting out pictures to show, I ran across a shoot I did for fun this summer and never edited. I forgot how lovely the setting was, and the models were, as usual, sublime. I love Jenny and Jordan! Anyway, here are some pretty pictures to look at; don't expect anything from me tomorrow, unless things go veryvery well and there is some excited squee-ing.

lost jordan and mona

from here to eternity